Apple Spice Cake

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This cake turns out deliciously soft and moist, especially when you use gluten-free flour.  Unfortunately, the gluten-free version does fall apart more easily than the one with regular flour, but you can either patch the cake back together (pictured above), or slice it up and bring only the nicest pieces to a party.  Your friends won’t mind.

Baking Notes:

  • You can substitute a pear for an apple if necessary.
  • If you don’t have nutmeg, you can use 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice instead.
  • You can omit the raisins or cranberries if you don’t have or want to use them.

Original recipe

Apple Spice Cake
Adapted from All Recipes

  • 2 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cranberries OR raisins

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a bundt pan.
  2. If using raisins, cover them with warm water, let soak for 10 minutes, and then drain.
  3. Cream together butter and sugar.
  4. Mix in eggs and vanilla.
  5. Mix in spices, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Mix in flour.
  7. Stir in apples and cranberries OR strained raisins until well blended.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  9. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan.
  10. Once cool, shake pan to loosen cake. Turn onto serving plate.

Profiteroles

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Cream puff dough works amazingly well gluten free!   The little mounds that you drop onto the baking sheet puff right up in the oven, just the way they’re supposed to.  Traditional ice cream flavors for the filling are vanilla, chocolate, or coffee, but you should experiment to find your favorite.

Profiteroles
From Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

Yield: 24 profiteroles

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2  cup water
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Ice cream of your choice for filling, such as vanilla, chocolate, or coffee (about 28 oz)

 

  1. Position racks to divide oven into thirds and preheat to 425ºF.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Add flour all at once, lower heat to medium-low, and immediately start stirring energetically with a wooden spoon or heavy whisk.  The dough will come together.
  5. Continue to stir vigorously for about 1 minute longer to dry the dough.  (If you cook it too long, liquid will begin to pool at the bottom of the pan, but don’t worry – just pour everything into a mixing bowl in the next step.)
  6. Turn dough into a bowl and let it sit for a minute.  If using a stand mixer, fit it with the paddle attachment.  You can also use a hand mixer or even mix by hand (but I wouldn’t recommend it).
  7. Add eggs one at a time and beat, beat, beat until the dough is thick and sticky.  Make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next.  The dough might fall apart at first, but it will come back together by the time you add the last egg.  Use it as soon as it is made!
  8. Drop the dough in 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between puffs.  (At this point, you can put the entire pan in the freezer.  Once the unbaked puffs are frozen, you can transfer them into a plastic bag to store in the freezer for up to 2 months.)
  9. Put baking sheets into oven and immediately turn temperature down to 375ºF. (If using puffs from the freezer, don’t defrost them.  Just add 1-2 minutes to the baking time.)
  10. Bake puffs for 12 minutes without opening the oven door.  Rotate the baking sheets, switch them between the top and bottom racks, and bake for another 12-15 minutes, or until they are golden in color and firm to the touch.
  11. Leave puffs on the baking sheets to cool to room temperature.
  12. Cut the top third off each puff and fill the bottoms with ice cream.  Cover with the tops.
  13. Store profiteroles in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve.  When serving, give them a couple minutes to warm up before you eat them.

 

Belgian Brownie Cakelets

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Back in undergrad, our biology TA’s would reward us after each stressful midterm and final exam with delicious, dense, brownie cakelets.  This recipe reminds me a lot of those little cakes and the happiness I felt when eating them.

As a note, Smitten Kitchen suggests replacing the regular flour with cocoa powder but observes that the tops of the cakelets lose their shiny finish.  I used gluten-free flour and my cakelets stayed shiny.

Original recipe

Belgian Brownie Cakelets
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 12 cakelets

  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon gluten-free flour OR cocoa powder OR all-purpose flour

 

  1. Place chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl. Either over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave in 15- to 30-second bursts, stirring frequently, melt the two together.
  2. Remove the bowl from heat and whisk in sugar, which should cool the mixture down significantly.
  3. Whisk in salt, then eggs, one at a time.
  4. Stir in flour.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. The batter will thicken a bit as it stands.
  6. Heat oven to 325°F.
  7. Either coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray or line it with cupcake papers.
  8. Spoon batter halfway into each cup and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cakelets comes out batter-free. (Fudgy crumbs are to be expected.)
  9. Let cool on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding. Puffed tops will fall as they cool.

Viennese Sachertorte

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Note: I originally posted this recipe on Ariane’s Kitchen, but I finally had a chance to try making it gluten free.  Since the cake is supposed to be dense, the lack of gluten doesn’t affect it too much.  It turns out to be softer and moister than the original dry cake, but it’s tasty and that’s what counts!  Also, if you can’t eat apricots, you can substitute raspberry preserves – however, if the preserves have seeds, use 1 1/2 cup instead of 1 1/4 cup.

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While in Vienna, I made a special trip to the Hotel Sacher just to try this classic dessert, a dry chocolate torte with apricot glaze encrusted in chocolate, accompanied by a dollop of whipped cream.  It was first developed in 1832 by Franz Sacher for Prince Metternich and later perfected by his son, Eduard Sacher, who worked at Demel bakery.  Wikipedia has an amusing history of the legal battles that Hotel Sacher and Demel fought over who got to call their cake “The Original Sachertorte,” who got to add a second layer of apricot glaze, and more.

Epicurious has a recipe that closely approximates Hotel Sacher’s sachertorte.  The torte isn’t quite as dry – which in my opinion is a good thing.  It is a bit of a hassle to make (ideally you’ll have both a stand mixer and a handheld mixer, plus a candy thermometer), but I think it’s worth it!

Sachertorte
From Epicurious

Yield: One 2-layer 9″ circular cake

Cake:

  • 4.5 oz high-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghiradelli, but Epicurious suggests Valrhona)
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup gluten-free OR all-purpose flour, spooned lightly into measuring cup

Apricot Glaze:

  • 1 1/4 cups apricot preserves (make sure you don’t get jam or jelly; Epicurious suggests D’Arbo)
  • 2 tablespoons golden rum or water (brandy works too if you don’t have rum; Epicurious suggests Stroh rum)

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 6 oz high-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Make the cake (can make up to 2 days in advance and store in airtight container at room temperature):

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Butter a 9″ springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper.  Lightly dust the sides with flour.
  2. Melt chocolate in the microwave on medium power.  Let stand until cool, stirring often.
  3. In a large bowl (ideally with a stand mixer), beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar on low speed.
  5. Beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes until light in color and texture.
  6. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time.
  7. Beat in chocolate and vanilla.
  8. In a separate large bowl (ideally with a handheld mixer), beat egg whites and granulated sugar on high speed just until they form soft, shiny peaks. Do not overbeat egg whites.
  9. Stir about 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture to lighten it.
  10. Fold remaining egg white mixture into chocolate mixture, leaving a few streaks of whites.
  11. Sift 1/2 of the flour over the chocolate mixture, and fold in with a rubber spatula. Repeat with remaining flour.
  12. Spread batter evenly in prepared springform pan.
  13. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  The cake will puff up rather dramatically in the center.
  14. Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan, and invert the cake onto the rack. Remove the paper and re-invert on another rack to turn right side up. (Or, if you don’t have that many wire racks, carefully invert the cake into the palm of one hand, peel off the paper with your other hand, and put the cake back on the rack.)
  15. Cool completely.

 

Make the apricot glaze (can make ahead of time and store in fridge):

  1. Combine apricot preserves and rum/water in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
  3. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.  It will be done when you lift the spoon and the last drops clinging to it are very sticky.
  4. Strain mixture through a wire sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on the solids.
  5. Use glaze while warm, otherwise the preserves will begin to solidify.  You can microwave it briefly if that happens.

 

Assemble cake:

  1. With a long serrated knife, cut off the domed top of the cake to make it level.  If there are large holes from air bubbles, pull off bits of the cake you just cut off and use some apricot glaze to “glue” them into the holes.
  2. Cut the cake horizontally into two layers.
  3. Put one layer on an 8-inch cardboard round (or, if you’re lazy, a large plate).
  4. If you have a brush, brush the top of the layer with the apricot glaze. If you don’t have a brush, spoon the glaze on the layer and smooth it out with the bottom of the spoon.
  5. Put the second layer on top and brush or spoon glaze over it.
  6. Brush or spoon remaining glaze over the sides of the cake.
  7. Transfer the cake to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet lined with waxed paper or aluminum foil.
  8. Let cake cool until glaze is set.

 

Make the chocolate glaze (MUST be made fresh):

  1. Combine sugar, water, and chocolate in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan (a 2-quart saucepan at largest, otherwise the mixture will reduce too quickly and burn).
  2. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat.
  3. Attach a candy thermometer to the saucepan.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 234°F.  (I didn’t have a candy thermometer, so I just cooked it for 5 minutes.  In the end, my glaze stayed kind of gloopy and never set properly, but it tasted fine anyway.)
  5. Use warm!

 

Glaze the cake:

  1. Pour WARM chocolate glaze on top of the cake.
  2. With a metal spoon or spatula, smooth the glaze over the top so it runs down the sides and completely coats the cake.
  3. Cool until glaze is barely set.
  4. Transfer cake to serving plate.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until glaze is completely set. (Since I didn’t get the temperature right, mine never set properly and stayed gooey.)
  6. Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving.

 

Make whipped cream (can make 1 day in advance):

  1. Combine cream, sugar, and vanilla in a well-chilled bowl.
  2. Beat until the cream forms soft peaks.

 

To serve:

  1. Dip a knife into hot water and cut cake into slices.
  2. Place a dollop of whipped cream by each slice.

Coco Rochers

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These French cookies are like American macaroons – chewy mounds of coconut held together by egg white and sugar.  They’re very fast to make and delicious to eat.  Plus you don’t have to change anything to make them gluten free.

Coco Rochers
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi

Yield: 30 cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Put coconut, egg whites, and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Stir to mix well.
  2. Place saucepan over medium-low heat heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is hot to the touch, about 7-10 minutes.  (Heat the ingredients without browning them.)
  3. Scrape dough into a heatproof bowl and stir in vanilla.
  4. Press plastic wrap against the surface and chill for several hours; overnight is best.  It can be refrigerated up to 5 days.  (If you’re impatient like me, you can divide the dough across a couple of shallow bowls to cool it faster.)
  5. Preheat oven to 300ºF.
  6. Use an insulated baking sheet or stack two baking sheets one on top of the other.  (This prevents the bottoms from burning before the tops are done baking.)  Line the top sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Scoop out 2-teaspoon chunks of dough and press the mixture into balls between the palms of your hands.  If you have a small cookie scoop, you can use that too.
  8. Place mounds on the baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between them.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are lightly golden and feel slightly firm to the touch.
  10. Transfer baking sheet to a rack and let cookies cool on the sheet.